Sabrina Carpenter on the Radical Honesty of Her New Album, ‘Emails I Can’t Send’

“One thing that experience did do was that it stripped back a lot of layers of tolerating anything that’s less than real, because I didn’t really have the energy to tolerate anything that was less than genuine and authentic at that time,” she says. (Another factor in Carpenter’s willingness to let down her guard may have been the tabloid maelstrom that followed the release of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License,” the lyrics of which some interpreted as a response to her ex, fellow Disney actor Joshua Bassett, embarking on a new relationship with Carpenter.)

Where Emails I Can’t Send departs from Carpenter’s heroes from decades past, however, is in its sprinkling of very Gen Z references (from unread texts to lying to your therapist to anonymous online death threats), among more timeless, heart-on-your-sleeve elegies to lost love. It feels like the most fully realized vision of Carpenter the musician—and the most rounded portrait of Carpenter the human being—yet. “I would hope that if someone had never listened to my music before, and they listened to this album, they would leave it feeling like they know me better as a person,” she says.

Here, Carpenter tells Vogue about the unusual writing process for the album, balancing heartbreak with humor, and why she can’t wait to get back on the road and perform live.

Vogue: When did you start writing the record? Was there a clean break between the songwriting for Singular [Carpenter’s previous album] and Emails I Can’t Send?

Sabrina Carpenter: I was doing a run on Broadway [in Mean Girls] right before the pandemic, and once the shutdown happened, I sort of went into this mode of… I mean, everybody has their way of coping. Some people were like, I’m not going to do anything for however long, and I’m just going to take this time off for myself and recuperate. But for me, I was like, I’m going to start this process [of writing a new album]. I knew that it would take a long time, because I really wanted to take my time with this project in particular. I signed with a new label in the middle of the pandemic, and I think there’s so much that changes between the ages of 18 to 21, so I knew that this project would be very different. But the process kind of started there. It incorporated a lot of living life as well as it did actually working on the music—I was really writing through everything that I was experiencing.

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